It was a moment generations in the making, but when Sally Fitzgibbons, Courtney Conlogue and Molly Picklum paddled out for the first heat of the Billabong Pro Pipeline history was made. The first full-length women's Championship Tour event at Pipeline was officially underway.
By the second heat of the day, Kauai's Malia Manuel made a little bit more history, locking in the first excellent scoring ride for a Backdoor drainer.
"To be honest I was super stressed, I wanted to alleviate that by catching a few waves and kind just getting the ball rolling," said Manuel. "I've spent a lot of time out there this winter, it's my first real winter here at Pipeline and I had such a good crew and great support. It's really hard to get waves out there to practice so it doesn't matter how much time you spend out there, sometimes it all comes down to being in the right spot."
The next heat was stacked with talent, featuring defending World Champ Carissa Moore, HIC Pipe Pro winner Moana Jones Wong and Costa Rica's Brisa Hennessy, it was an exhibition of tube-riding at the world's most iconic reef.
"I started surfing Pipe when I was 12, and I've been coming here consistently since I was 18," said Wong, who narrowly advanced over Moore. "Surfing against Carissa pushes me to be better because she's the best in the world. I look up to her and I want to surf as good as she can."
Two-time World Champ Tyler Wright and CT rookie India Robinson had a walk-through heat as Stephanie Gilmore wasn't able to compete as she entered the WSL COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols. Wright pulled the trigger first with a good tube on Backdoor for an early lead and solidified with perfect positioning on a second right-hand barrel to build momentum and confidence heading into the third round.
"The most exciting thing for me this year is seeing all the rookies," said Wright. "It's been a long time since we've had such fresh faces on the tour, and it makes me emotional just seeing how they're coming in and making the most of it. It feels incredible to be a part of this sport and to be a woman in sport right now."
Replacing Gilmore in the Elimination Round was Bethany Hamilton, who made the most of the opportunity. Besting Hennessy and Caroline Marks, who's now been knocked out of the event, Hamilton's experience and Pipe prowess were on full display.
"I'm so stoked to be here," said Hamilton. "I'm in full mommy mode lately but trying to keep my surfing shape, so it's amazing to have the opportunity to be here today. There is also such great energy on the beach, everybody showing love."
The next call will come at 7:50am local time. Check the official Surfline Forecast for full details of what's on the horizon.